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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Regardless of which discipline or bitesport venue, people seem to fall into one of two catagories; either they feel it's important to apply tons of pressure to the dog to teach it to deal with it or ignore it; or they set up the scenarios to make the dog feel like he's invincible, trying to avoid anything that might trigger avoidance so that the dog can only experience success, which the dog should be able to pull confidence from should a more stressful situation arise in the future...

I've seen both training styles from members of the board, so hopefully we get a balanced debate. And let's try to avoid sitting on the fence on this one; I'm not necessarily talking about extremes in either scenario. This goes for both decoy and envirionmental pressure.

Simon
 

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interesting question simon. i lean more towards building the dog up to make him think he's invincible, and then occasionally add the stress. the stress thing is something that can/should be taken care of when initially testing a dog. it's kind of a thing where i think the dog has it or he doesn't. the important thing to keep in mind is that ALL dogs have a breaking point. constantly pushing the dog to just under that point seems counter-productive to me. it would also probably push down the dogs drive to engage in such situations.

so i would say 80% make the dog think he's king kong, 20% testing/maintenance on nerves (which pressure, be it decoy or environmental, is indicative of)...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think stress is really important to test a dog, I really don't see the upside to tons of stress in training. I think Tim's right on when he says that too much pressure, even if it's not to the breaking point, can bring a reluctancy to engage in the future.

For example, the water jugs filled with rocks... Are you really improving the dog's nerve threshold? Or are you just teaching the dog to ignore jugs filled with rocks? I get the need to train with certain distractions for sport-specific goals, but do the training's benefits extend much beyond that specific distraction?

Simon
 

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For example, the water jugs filled with rocks... Are you really improving the dog's nerve threshold? Or are you just teaching the dog to ignore jugs filled with rocks? I get the need to train with certain distractions for sport-specific goals, but do the training's benefits extend much beyond that specific distraction?

Simon
EXACTLY. that's why i laugh when people talking about stick hits being "pressure". the first time the dog sees the stick? yes. after 100's and 1000's of stick hits, do you think the dog really thinks that stick is a threat?

that doesn't mean that those things are worthless. the more you can expose the dog to, the better it is and the higher the chances are that the dog will relate any of those types of things to something he's seen or heard in the past (hoola hoops with streamers, branches with leaves, jugs with rocks, etc). it isn't the "finished" reaction that is important. it is the "first" reaction when exposed to something like that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Tim, when you're training PSD's, do you require that they would be able to put up with as much environmental pressure as required in certain sports? Or are you more concerned with being able to put up with decoy pressure? (In my experience one has very little to do with the other.)

I'm training my dog for PP work. His nerves are pretty thin, so I'm always very conscious of what he pervieves as pressure. If I were to start shaking jugs of rocks at him, he'd probably back off and wonder why I was trying to scare him. But put him in a scenario with loads of decoy pressure and he's all forward aggression. I've never really tried to work on his environmental issues because I figure they are what they are, and adding them to his training on a regular basis, IMO, would take away from his joy of whoopin' the decoy.

He's proven he can handle heavy decoy pressure, so I ease back on that too; 95% of the time I allow him to totally dominate the exchange.
 

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OK, so I am going to let Tim take this thread. He and I think alike on these issues.

I will add that I would just rather have a puppy that didn't really care about the shake jugs, and bit them if they were the closest thing available.

What Tim said!!!!



 

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as far as the environmental stuff, like i said, it's more for "testing" so to speak. we don't do it very much. we all pretty much know what our dogs will tolerate. our three dogs run the gamut in terms of the environmental stuff they will take. when we set something up with environmental stuff, we basically alter the scenario a bit and adjust it to what we feel each dog will take.

so to answer this question "do you require that they would be able to put up with as much environmental pressure as required in certain sports?" i guess i would say "no". take PSA for instance. lots of crazy environmental stuff. decoy pressure is probably so-so. i would say there are many, many PSD's out there that could not take the environmental stuff that a PSA 1 dog does. many reasons for that, but anyway, i feel like i'm talking in circles. not making much sense.

i guess what i'm saying is that ideally, yes, it would be nice to have a dog that will put up with that enviro stuff and take lots of decoy pressure, but it's probably not a necessity. there are so many other things that are looked for in a PSD. if the dog is a little bit scary environmentally, if everything else was nice, i'd put up with it...
 

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Dammit, I was gonna let Tim take this one.

Quote: (In my experience one has very little to do with the other.)

I screwed up the quote, but it was environmental vs decoy pressure, then the above quote.

This is not so. If you get a dogs nerves all jangled up before the bite, he has a greater chance of screwing up by coming off, not biting, or staying on the bite, and not coming off to the whistle.

They are all part of the scenario. If you reversed the above, then there would still be an effect on the dog. I need to get the video of the worlds in Mondio, (something PSA and ASR don't have : P ) where the dogs had to heel into a chute formed by two long agility tunnels, and upon reaching the end, there were two people with huge paper mache heads bobbling about at the end. Some real interesting reactions from the dogs.

Frawley had a video of a Dobe walking around chairs and cones and such, then someone popped an umbrella right in front of him. The dog was givena bite later, and you could see that this had an effect on the dog.



 

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Building confidence, in my opinion, is like laying bricks. You have to start at the bottom and work up. You can't lay bricks to high until the morter underneath sets up. Same with confidence. You have to build a good foundation, insure it's set up, then keep building. Take for example the statement about the umbrella being opened. Had that not been the first time it happened, would the results been different. Since the question involved all disciplines, I have to say, we can lose more than points, and sometimes you don't get a do-over. At somepoint, after building up to it, the dog has to be exposed to almost any concieveable distraction.

DFrost
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Dammit, I was gonna let Tim take this one.

Quote: (In my experience one has very little to do with the other.)

I screwed up the quote, but it was environmental vs decoy pressure, then the above quote.

This is not so. If you get a dogs nerves all jangled up before the bite, he has a greater chance of screwing up by coming off, not biting, or staying on the bite, and not coming off to the whistle.

They are all part of the scenario. If you reversed the above, then there would still be an effect on the dog. I need to get the video of the worlds in Mondio, (something PSA and ASR don't have : P ) where the dogs had to heel into a chute formed by two long agility tunnels, and upon reaching the end, there were two people with huge paper mache heads bobbling about at the end. Some real interesting reactions from the dogs.
I didn't mean that one wouldn't affect the other, only that they don't necessarily correlate, for example, some dogs have great nerves regarding decoys, but are skittish environmentally, and vice versa.
 

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Building confidence, in my opinion, is like laying bricks. You have to start at the bottom and work up. You can't lay bricks to high until the morter underneath sets up. Same with confidence. You have to build a good foundation, insure it's set up, then keep building. Take for example the statement about the umbrella being opened. Had that not been the first time it happened, would the results been different. Since the question involved all disciplines, I have to say, we can lose more than points, and sometimes you don't get a do-over. At somepoint, after building up to it, the dog has to be exposed to almost any concieveable distraction.

DFrost
Tim Martens said:
it isn't the "finished" reaction that is important. it is the "first" reaction when exposed to something like that.
Are these statements contradictory? Do you (asking Tim and David) expect a real-world working dog (meaning not a sport dog) to be able to automatically take these pressures in stride(with no prior exposure to a particular stress), or do you think you can build this confidence in a dog who doesn't initially present this way during selection testing?
 

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Konnie I look at it like the difference between gun green and gun shy. Gun green is merely the lack of exposure. To expose that dog to gun fire, I won't start with a blank pistol firing from 3 feet away. Building confidence is very similar. Again, the example of the umbrella. Why would one introduce the umbrella, flat cold, in the dog's face, when it could be introduced from a distance and worked in. It's the same for any similar distraction. Build them up rather than a total immersion. In agitation, I've never put on a full suit and attack a new dog and expect him to fight back. Same principle applies.

DFrost
 

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Konnie I look at it like the difference between gun green and gun shy. Gun green is merely the lack of exposure. To expose that dog to gun fire, I won't start with a blank pistol firing from 3 feet away. Building confidence is very similar. Again, the example of the umbrella. Why would one introduce the umbrella, flat cold, in the dog's face, when it could be introduced from a distance and worked in. It's the same for any similar distraction. Build them up rather than a total immersion. In agitation, I've never put on a full suit and attack a new dog and expect him to fight back. Same principle applies.

DFrost
Where do you draw the line between things like "gun green" and "gun shy?"

Just asking because this is a debate we USAR handlers must deal with all the time. How much can you build confidence or should it already be there? To what degree do you allow for lack of confidence?

I've seen dogs purchased for USAR who were not what I would describe as confident. Handlers will spend months building confidence, only to find that it shatters when the dog is put into new or more stressful situations.

Do you see this in PSDs as well?
 

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I'm looking at two different issues here. A dog that is weak nerved, or where the lack of confidence is hardwired, in my opinion, isn't worth the effort. A startled response from a first time event does not necessarily mean the dog is lacking confidence. Take the "gun green/shy" for example. A gun shy dog will display visible fear as opposed to gun green being uneasy or mere curiosity. In agitation training, a new dog's behavior is watched very closely by a helper. It's a dance that the dog always leads and the (good) helper is a a follower. Just enough pressure to keep the dog involved, never enough to back a dog down. These steps are not taken because the dog "lacks" confidence. They are taken to build on the confidence the dog has. As in gunfire, while the sound of gunfire may draw a curious look, at 200 yards, that behavior will, or at least should, disappear by the time the report of the weapon is mere feet away. That, however is over time, not an instant occurance. In SAR, I would think you've seen dogs that may be hesitant in close, confined area, the first time presented. Or for example the smoke trailer/confined space. Being hesitant on first trial is not always a sign of no confidence, but an indication that with reptition, the objective can be reached.

DFrost
 

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Simon[/QUOTE]

This is an interesting subject for sure and one I talk about at length in training often. I'm not sure what or if you had a question. But I have two thougths on the matter.

First, Genetics to me dictates how I approach my goal: If my goal is a Police Dog, then making a house of cards with nothing but successes upon successes, does me no good, if genetically the dog can't deal with real pressure. I can desensitize all day long during puppy imprinting, and young dog training. However, the true genetics will ultimately manifest in real world scenarios.

Seconds is training Goals. Now, if I play in a particular Dog Sport with predictable scenarios and situations. I have many more options for the type of genetics I chose to employ. I can do more constructing and manipulation with genetically weaker dogs and have similar results in a sport with less variables.

Bryan Colletti
 

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EXACTLY. that's why i laugh when people talking about stick hits being "pressure". the first time the dog sees the stick? yes. after 100's and 1000's of stick hits, do you think the dog really thinks that stick is a threat?
Yes, I do. If they didn't see it as a threat, you wouldn't see dogs in upper levels of competition coming off under the stick, or not going through a barrage. Gaurantee by the time they got to the upper level they have seen 1000's of stick hits in their career, but they obviously still see the threat. Also, that stick can HURT in the right hands. Decoys routinely go through multiple sticks in trials because they are breaking them hitting the dogs. Some dogs know it's going to hurt and still choose to bite, others decide it's not worth it anymore and bail.
 

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I believe in building a dog, similar to what Tim said in his initial post. Lots of building, but with occasional stress. You can't raise the dogs level of confidence or experience if you aren't pushing the bar on occasion. But I don't see any point in starting with a dog who is lacking confidence. That bold, outgoing pup is still going to need to be exposed to things. So why take the shy one hiding in the corner?
 
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